This study was carried out to analyze the distribution and soil-plant transfer of selected potential harmful elements (PHEs: As, Hg and Zn) in soils and in two edible horticultural crops (cabbage, Brassica oleracea L., and tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill). randomly sampled in kitchen gardens/small farms around one of the most important and old Portuguese industrial areas (Estarreja Chemical Complex-ECC). The results show that 46% and 11.5% of the soils present high total As (12-532. mg/kg) and Hg (6.6-13.65. mg/kg) concentrations that exceed protective health Canadian soil quality guidelines. Soil As and Zn available fractions are also of concern for groundwater and crops contamination as more than 84% of the samples were above the trigger value proposed by the German legislation for both elements (0.4 and 2. mg/kg, respectively). In the horticultural crops the cabbage leaves concentrate more the PHEs (max.: 3.5, 0.08 and 746. mg/kg dw for As, Hg and Zn, respectively) than the tomato fruit (max.: 0.4, 0.02 and 82. mg/kg. dw, respectively). The highest concentration of the study PHEs in soils and horticultural crops were found near sewage outlets that are chiefly related to historical industrial activities mostly from arsenopyrite roasting and a chloralkali plant. The values of estimated bioaccumulation and bioconcentration coefficients suggested exclusion mechanisms for transfer of As to edible cabbage and tomato tissues and cabbage Zn tolerance capacity. The concentration of the PHEs in the edible horticultural crops tissues were not directly related with respective soil total concentration or available fractions, specially for As and Hg. Sampling locations with the highest concentrations of As, Hg, Zn in soil and vegetable foodstuffs should be sites to foregoing research and human daily intakes should be investigated in order to evaluate potential health risks. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Year of publication: 2014